Growing together: Community gardeners share knowledge
On Tihonet Road, there is a small gravel parking lot marked by a diminutive sign for the Wareham Community Garden.
Always a peaceful place, the garden has been a solace for the gardeners who cherish the community as much as the opportunity to grow their own produce.
As an outdoor space, the garden was already well-suited to the era of social distancing. Gardeners are asked to wear a mask when within ten feet of another gardener, and tools could no longer be shared, but for the most part, the garden has run as normal.
Carol Wasserman, in her second year, still counts herself as a newcomer to the gardens.
“I am still learning. Last year, I was ridiculous, and so was my garden. I’ve made progress,” Wasserman said.
Previously, she said she had only grown flowers, making the switch to vegetables a real learning curve.
Wasserman also credited the other gardeners for being helpful and generous with their knowledge and with seeds -- she successfully grew heirloom tomatoes using seeds from another member of the community garden.
On Sunday, she was harvesting the edible flowers off her nasturtium, along with tomatoes, bell peppers, and some rosemary.
Earlier this year, she said she had been particularly delighted by the cucumbers she grew.
“They’re so fresh,” Wasserman said.
She said there’s nothing like putting a vegetable in your salad that was on the stem or in the ground 20 minutes earlier.
“When you garden in your own backyard, you’re doing it alone. You’re not doing it alone here,” Wasserman said.
However, she said, there is some friendly competition among the gardeners that she likened to that on the Great British Baking Show.
“We are judged by our tomatoes. It’s not the quality in our hearts -- It’s our tomatoes,” Wasserman joked.
“It’s been a good year,” said gardener Margaret Ishihara, who was harvesting many butternut squashes. She planned to cure them so they would last longer into the winter.
Ishihara said she especially appreciates the quiet community that has grown at the gardens.
“People will help you out with advice, or if you have too much squash,” she said.
Jake Sutherland, along with his dog Louis, were busy harvesting tomatoes and trimming plants on Sunday.
Although this is Sutherland’s first year at the garden in Wareham, he was previously involved with a community garden in Lowell for eight years -- eventually serving as a garden coordinator. Sutherland retired about ten years ago.
“I’ve always loved gardening, and now I get to do it full-time,” he said.
Sutherland used the square-foot gardening method to plant a number of different vegetables in his garden bed, including pumpkins, turban squash, butternut squash, eggplants, and peppers. He noted that the hot summer made it an especially good year for tomatoes.
Gardeners using the square-foot method divide their garden up into sections based on the amount of room needed for each plant, and often train plants like tomatoes to grow upwards rather than across the ground in order to use space more efficiently.
For the second growing season, Sutherland hopes to grow garlic and swiss chard.
“There are great gardeners here, and it’s such a peaceful place,” Sutherland said. “It’s like Eden.”
For more information about the community garden, search for “Wareham Community Garden” on Facebook or go to https://warehamcommunitygardens.wordpress.com.